An empty void behind, a bright future ahead.

I remember being a burnt out husk, in my early twenties. A wasteland after an emotional Battle of the Somme. Something like a vassal state, spent of resources and plundered into a barren. Trapped and stuck are the words I would use to describe that era.

I can’t remember particular days, because I don’t think it was possible to individuate them. Just a sense of going nowhere, there being no hope, only danger outside. A place of threat and humiliation, worse than the one I was in. I had no personal space, it would constantly be invaded. No matter where I put anything, it could not be guaranteed to still be there the next day. It was an example of the total system of the family at its absolute worst, and in those years the seeds of dissent had been sowed wide and thick. There was no way I was going to be like these, seemingly semi-sentient, people.

All of this created a feeling that something was wrong. It wasn’t a rational exercise, as it is now. I didn’t have an insight into psychological disorder and derangement, as I do now.

It was deranged people, out of control, hurting me. Repeating the cycles that destroyed them; petty and pathetic people. The lost leading the lost.

The justifications of ‘discipline’ were paper thin. Humiliation and insult is not a tool of discipline. It is the way deranged and hurt people bring down others, because they haven’t learnt to manage what happened to them.

I remember always hiding away when guests and relatives would come to visit. It would make me feel guilty, not being social. It would also make me seem alien, and ungrateful. But I didn’t have any energy for them, my emotional energy was spent and wasted on two deeply stupid and violent adults.

Now I see that hiding away as a means of grasping on to some independence, and most certainly an act of defiance. I will not play your games or pretend. I am actually quite proud that I managed to pull that off at such an early age. Nothing could move me out – uncle is sleeping, uncle is tired. Yeah tired of your bullshit perhaps.

There was no point trying to justify things – within their destructive system you do not have a choice. You owe them your time and your energy, the authoritarian morons have the final say. That is the price of their “security”.

But this legacy is a futile one, and still rears its head occasionally, even to this day. Sometimes that feeling of stuck and trapped comes back, even though I made massive advances away from the destructive system which tried to destroy my spirit and bring me into line.

When I look back over my shoulder at the last decade, I see big blocks of black void. No light can penetrate through there. It was only really around the age of twenty-six or so that I begun to make up ground, finding freedom and responsibility in squatting and protest sites.

At last I had a chance to be proven, and there was proven. Years free from a destructive system ruled by the thick. It was only in the last three or four years that I started living, and I have no compulsion to stop doing so.

Now I am half-way between, here and there. I still have connections to the system, but I feel myself transitioning away for good; playing out the inevitable anxieties.

And if it wants to dig its claws into me, now I am knowledgeable enough to find all the chinks in its armour and strike back.

And certainly strong enough to shatter it, to lay into them with words three times as violent as they once layed into me.

I only need to be pushed far enough.

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There is no one else in the entire world…

There is no one else in the entire world. Only myself.

This is what happens when you go down into the tunnel (as some may call it).

Isolation. Purgatory.

You can test the statement rationally: ‘Is there anyone else in the world?’ quite simply by looking and listening. Go to the grocers and you will see people and hear them. They will be quite real, with textures, souls, bodies, and all of it.

But they will not interact with you. They will notice you.

Perhaps then, when I feel like there is no one else in the entire world, what I really mean is there is no me in the world, because there is no one who truly recognises and knows me at this point in time.

The disturbing thing is that there seems little way to consciously understand or plan for this. I have had days of great social and artistic triumph followed by a harsh night and then deep sadness and misery. Downward spirals are hard to predict, vicious cycles tricky to break out of.

Sometimes you just need help.

The speed at which we can become isolated and vulnerable…it is only balanced by the speed at which we can turn back, rise out of it, be able to sleep again.

The most unnatural thing we can be is alone, and yet so many of us are alone. I am alone even when not really alone!

It is not so much of a paradox when you think about it, and move one premise behind: ‘I am alone’ is positing an ‘I’ which does not really exist in the way the ego thinks it does. Taking a step back from our identities we can see them for the façade they are. And as said many times, the more these identities try to secure themselves against the chaos of the world, the more they isolate, and thus the more they need to fortify in an endless spiral of impossibility.

My entering a state of high anxiety, isolation and depression can mean one, two or both things from here. Firstly that there is an element of post traumatic stress, which will keep on coming back until it is somehow dealt with. Or secondly, and I think more likely, the work that needs to be done has not been done. I need to relinquish this ‘western ego’ I do not even really believe in, and then I can be freed from depression and anxiety. To let go of all the pain and even the wish for personal justice, for healing and tranquillity.

Lets not beat ourselves about it internet people! This is the culture we are born into and all we knew for a large part of our lives. There is no way to truly transcend these indoctrinations – I honestly believe we will be poisoned until the day nature takes it’s course and we find true release in death. All we can do is heal and heal and heal, as much as the pain hurts and hurts and hurts. If the good days outweigh the bad (and they tend to), then life is worth living as much as it can be done so.

The day I thought I might die

Perhaps letting the subconscious scream out to the cosmos will help it keep silence. Now I am close to my wounds, they seem more vivid than ever. It is like being in a state of hurt, almost constantly.

I know that trauma is like being stuck in a timeless non-place, obsessive over moments and details. With enough time, those wounds recede deep inside, but they do not truly disappear. Time does not heal trauma.

Fortunately, I know I want them to close up and am willing to do the work necessary. This requires making a chronicle of what happened, piecing it together and salvaging myself back out of the wreckage. Putting it into a narrative, coming to understand it, this is now my task.

But this is just the trauma of last year. All of the deeper traumas, which made this one possible (and which, I believe, were represented in some way through this one) we will get to as I work back.

The day I thought I was going to die

I remember waking up to a misty Tuesday morning, about eight days after a light knock to the head. There was a strange feeling there, on the left side of my skull. I had felt my eyesight was a bit worse the last few days, and started worrying about that. I remember going to the first greenhouse and speaking to S and the two Js. They said I should check out the injury, because it could be serious. One of the Js recounted a tale of a knock to the head. I remember the other J giving me directions to the A&E, telling me to take a bus halfway to avoid some possibly dodgy estates.

I started walking, feeling a bit like Corum of the Silver Hand out of Michael Moorcock’s Swords trilogy. It was a misty, cold and harsh day. A strange sense was warning me of something, a sense I was not yet connected to. On the way I was worrying – about missing a workday on site, about my wellbeing, about my strength. Half way to the hospital, one of the J’s health warnings came into my head, and the next moment, at an unspectacular bus stop the world started to shift beneath my feet. It was a shock of dizziness caused by breathlessness (in hindsight I realize this is due to perfectly natural hyperventilation – taking in too much oxygen whilst in fight or flight mode!)

Thinking I might be in serious danger, I cursed myself for coming alone and went into a nearby charity shop. I asked if they could phone an ambulance. The grumbly lady tried to, but they would not send anyone. My condition was not serious enough. There was still 111. I remember asking to make the call, and the woman saying ‘its not going to cost anything is it?’ I had a quid in my pocket. Even thinking about the possibility of collapsing on the floor, or death, another part of me was still thinking about politeness and assuaging the woman’s fears of a 10p phone call.

But 111 were useless anyhow, so I would have to make it on my own.

Crossing a road has never been so hard. Nor has waiting at a bus stop for the U5 (or U3). Every moment was agony and worry. I literally had never had a panic attack before, and had no way of knowing how to deal with one. When the bus came, I got on and found a seat, and remember holding on to the railing.

What sort of thoughts go through the head of one who thinks they might be dying? I cannot quite remember. I think there was something about the journey ending here, begging for more time, being a total fuck up. There was a strong fear of sudden blackout, and wondering if people on the bus would get me safely to the hospital. I started to talk a bit with people as the bus wended through the lanes. An old man behind me reassured me. Still, I was extremely impatient and frustrated, although able to laugh a bit at the old ladies getting on and making small talk to ease their loneliness.

At last, about ten minutes after what could have been my last journey on the U3 (or was it the U5?) on earth, I walked the hundred or so yards into A&E. I felt a bit safer now; collapsing in a hospital is a good place to collapse. I spoke to the clerk and she asked a few questions about my health. Smoking, drinking, drugs and all that. I answered I was clean, but evidently not healthy enough to avoid smashing my head into things.

I think the fear of dying was wearing off. Waiting in the A&E alone, surrounded by people, I started to text people back at ‘home’, to let them know. I remember then having an extremely painful blood test, I was tense and taut, like an animal trapped in a cage. Where the needle entered, a soreness and redness persisted for many days.

Then I saw the doctor. He was reassuring. I felt safe in the authority of a medical professional (when extremely vulnerable, this tends to happen with me). No one really knows what was happening with my brain at the time, but the fact that I was articulate and sensate meant nothing serious (I had no idea at the time how much anxiety and stress could create such sensations and exacerbate fears. Even writing about this is bringing back those sensations). He gave me a small leaflet about head injuries (nothing about anxiety though), and told me to come back if symptoms persisted.

I didn’t have a doctor, and hadn’t had one for ages. Nor did I have a passport, and hadn’t had one for ages. I was in the wilderness, and the hospital is no place to find the care you need.

So I was discharged, and waited for Z to pick me up in the car park. I cannot remember much of the journey ‘home’, only my perspective, looking out at a drear town from behind the dashboard. And cookies, strange French cookies (I think they were on this journey anyway). Nor can I remember what happened when we got back, or how I managed to sleep that night. (Zeezee really helped me that day, I should be more grateful).

So began this saga. The coming days, which I will get onto soon, were the hardest I have ever lived through. The coming months would be shaken by the fall out of these early traumas, and open an emotional Pandora’s box that still has not closed.

 

 


 

Deep are these wounds

I)

Oppression and belittlement

Leave deepest wounds.

After all these years

Still, resting on top of spikes

No bed can be made

Or elysium found.

 

A shadow follows me everywhere

Begging to be seen.

It is ugly and the contours of its face

Are twisted in sorrow

Self-pity, pleading for mercy.

In the next moment it flips

Infinite in its hatred

To spite, clawing down, dragging

A weight inside my skull

A child crying in pain.

 

The abusers take your mind

Like the seed of a rapist

Planted inside a womb

And the foetus inside

Cannot be torn free easily

And not without guilt

Or shame, the army and fortress

Of the abusers

Respectively.

 

II)

They are clueless and warped

Like hungry cattle upon pasture

Leaving nothing to grow again.

No words can reach through

The barred gates of ignorance

No sentiment of mutual love

Can replace their lust for power

Over anything, even their own.

 

They strive to control and dominate

So warped are they themselves

Unable to understand their own inner wounds

They perpetuate pains

Then fly away to lick wounds

And put on apologetic airs

Whilst the demons inside grow again in might.

 

For anyone deep in the bowels

Of these castles – no hope within its walls

No promise of inheritance or freedom

For they will grasp on to their meagre power

Til their corpses rot on petty thrones.

That is all they have.

No soul remains, and all dreams

Withered away into nothing long ago

Only bitterness and ignorance

Can fuel such wretched, barely sentient people.

 

Only outside the walls can the call be heard

The cry for help like a raven’s caw

But not so easily now.

The deranged society around us

Has closed ears, and a venomed-blade

Behind its cloak (a suit of humanitarianism

And a tie of liberty).

 

Only the cracks in the pavement

Offer any chance, the bands of fighters

Scattered lights,  embattled souls

Awash in anxiety and agony

Alike to yours, but with different abuses

And different wounds inside.

They are the only choice and the only chance

Of escape, and then thriving.

 

For it is too late to go back now.

Far have we stepped away

From the cloying circle of conformity

And the addictive drug of obedience.

Long have we dismantled the destructive engine of capital

We cannot go back now.

So all we have is each other

And solidarity.

 

Stay close

 

III)

No one can truly hurt you

More than you can hurt yourself.

The mind is like a poison

Upon a natural plant

An over-used organ, draining its power

And better silenced most days.

No one can harm you

Nor fulfil you or complete you.

This you must do yourself.

Everything you need is already in you

From birth til death;

The only real light you might know

The only real flame against

This cold age of nihilisms.

 

Nurture that soul and respect it

Try not to sell it short

Or sell it out.

 

When you know yourself

As much as you can know that fragment of divinity

Others will know, and you can go among them

In union and friendship

And then you might begin to know freedom

And dignity.

Pain and self-growth

At first I was afraid of the pain. It makes sense. Caution is wise when something new is upon you. And patience too. To be unsure, to wait it out, to dip a toe in the black pool and have a safe space to recoil. All of these are wise decisions.

Yet the day will come when the passage of time has done all of the healing it can. Time alone does not heal all wounds, and anyone who tells you it does is a fool. Once you have something of a stable foundation again, the days and days waiting for inner-pain to go away become wasted opportunities to get back onto your feet. You cannot know when you are ready to go back out (though your body will give you indicators, or guesses). So you will just have to try it for yourself, to trust your defences and trust that you can take what comes and have the self-love and inner-strength to make it. Do not go it if you are not ready, but do not stagnate it you are.

Wait and you will wait forever.

The world is full of suffering. There is no denying it, and anyone sensitive to it will feel it. Pain is unavoidable and inevitable. Thus, one way or another, the time will come when you will fall into a spiral of pain which dominates your consciousness. It is not a ‘mental’ thing – it will permeate all aspects of your body and mind. It will come when it comes, and you will not be able to just will it away.

I would rather face those days of reckoning as one who is trained to face my fears, then one who hides behind shields of repression, or naive hope in the passing of days. And so I did.

When the pain came and took over my body I could not turn it away, and why should it leave on my account? Does it not have an equal right to express itself through the human corpus? Is it not also a part of me? When the pain came and took over my body I stopped resisting it and accepted its presence. I went deeper into it, explored it, and this hurried its course toward resolution.

The black pool is there, waiting for you. Ignore it and you will see it in dark dreams. Dive into it and you will come to know it wholly.

It will return again, the pain is recurring. There is no end point of healing and no end point of anything. But when the inevitable returns again, you can become more and more adept at dealing with it. I have no ultimate choice in what I feel and when I feel – I do not think anyone has that much freedom. But when the storm comes I will ride through to its eye, through to the other side.

Face things, do not let them linger. Confront and challenge things; at your own pace, but swiftly enough to not lose your social life, hope and ambition to them. Human beings evolved on the plains to hunt in packs. They did not evolve in arm chairs and in front of laptop screens to wait and rot.

You were born to hunt, to be an element in nature, so go and hunt. Only, this hunt is not for some animal, it is a quest into yourself for truth, for what truly happened, and the path to changing yourself. I have changed so much since the pain came and I learnt to hunt so much for the better.

When something inside screams, listen. The longer you leave it, the worse your demons will grow…

Time and Trauma

Does trauma heal with time, or does time just make you feel cheated for longer?

The natural healing systems of the body can clearly get it wrong with anxiety, which is an over-active sense of alarm leading to the degrading of normal function. Waiting for these negative learned behaviours to change themselves is not going to work.

The mind can race ahead of the body, or think itself separate – a folly. But it can also correct its course, for the mind too is of nature, and we are possessed of some wisdom. Altering the mind’s course to reduce anxiety will help trauma heal.

But how long will  this take? I cannot know. And what will healing look like? I do not know. All I can know is whether or not I am on the path to healing and whether I wish to get better, or remain forever broken.